Magnolia Baptist Church

1040 Wansley Rd, Laurel, MS 39441

How To Pray For Your Church - Bubba Jennings

Did you know there are about 650 prayers recorded in the Bible? This is because prayer is important. Throughout Scripture, God repeatedly invites his people to pray to him in all kinds of circumstances for all kinds of reasons. God especially delights in his people praying for the church.

So how should we pray for our church? Let’s explore several sections of Scripture to see how prayers for the church are modeled in the Bible.

1. Pray for Unity in Jesus for the Church

In John 17, Jesus sets the example of what it looks like to pray for the church. And what does he pray for? Unity. Jesus prays that his people “may all be one,” united together in God. From John 17:20–23 and what is known as the High Priestly Prayer:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

2. Pray for God’s Will within the Church

In Colossians 1, the Apostle Paul displays his heart for the church by praying that the people within the church be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, so that they can live for Jesus. From Colossians 1:9–13:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.

3. Pray for the Holy Spirit to Move in the Church

In Ephesians 1 and 3, the Apostle Paul prays that God the Father would give the Spirit of God to the people within the church.  He prays that God would strengthen them in the Spirit, so that Jesus dwells in their hearts and they are rooted in the love of Christ. Here’s Ephesians 1:16–20:

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.

And Ephesians 3:14–19:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

4. Pray for Fruitfulness for the Church

In 2 Thessalonians 1, the Apostle Paul prays for a church that is growing in faith and love while enduring persecutions. He wants them to know that Jesus will one day return to earth and that, until that day comes, it is very important for the church to be faithful and fruitful, working diligently to provide for their families and help expand God’s kingdom. Here’s 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12:

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us be encouraged that our God invites us to call upon him in prayer at all times for our church.

Bubba Jennings is the lead pastor of Mars Hill Federal Way.

I Am My Righteousness - Paul David Tripp

The past few weeks we've been looking replacement identities. We either tend to put our identity in our achievement, or we seek to put our identity in our relationships. But there's a third area where we're at risk:

Identity in Performance

In the early days of his faith, Joe was overwhelmed by the desperateness of his need for God's grace. He was seeing his sin everywhere, and he was constantly thankful for the daily mercy and patience of the Redeemer. Joe was also patient with the people around him who were struggling. He knew that they were essentially no different from him, and that he was only kept by God's grace.

As Joe continued to grow, however, something began to change in his heart. He began to feel as though he deserved to belong in the community of God's children. He was proud of his theological knowledge and had little patience for Christians who were "just too lazy" to really know their faith. He looked down on brothers and sisters who struggled faithfully to participate in public worship and small groups.

When he put his check in the offering plate on Sunday, he scanned the sanctuary wondering who was getting a "free ride." He loved to show people the photo albums of the many short-term missions trips he had been on, and he didn't understand why some people were never willing to give up one week to serve God. The tender, grateful Joe had given way to a hard and self-assured man.

Joe approached every Christian activity as an opportunity to put another notch in his belt of righteousness. He was active and involved, but there was little sense of gratitude because he had little sense of need. Although he could not see it, Joe was much like the Pharisee Jesus describes in Luke 18. Joe had once been a man who had found his identity in Christ; now he was a man who got his identity from his own performance.

Although Joe was in church every time the doors were open, there was little true love and worship in what he did. The bottom line was that Joe was doing it all for Joe. The praise always went to Joe, while the judgement went to anyone who was unable to live up to his righteous standard. Joe was in the middle of his life, but he had lost the joy of his salvation. He was a sullen and critical Christian with little heartfelt excitement for his faith.

  1. Could it be that "Joe" might be you? Where can you see similarities?
  2. Is there a chance that you replaced the joy of identity in Christ with the pride of identity in your own righteousness?
  3. Are you more critical and judgmental toward the people around you than you are about criticizing yourself?
  4. Ask yourself: "Do I feel today like I need Christ's grace as much as the first day I believed?"

The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail - Eric Geiger

So that my in-laws would be somewhat comfortable with their daughter living in Miami, we bought a house in a gated community. After all, Miami is not known as the safest place to live. Miami Vice and CSI Miami do not help the perception. So I was excited to tell my in-laws that I was doing all that I could to protect their daughter when I moved her to South Florida.

At least that is what the brochure said when we bought the house.

It turned out the gate was just a piece of PVC pipe attached to a mechanical device. That’s it. In the entire time we lived in the house, the gate was closed approximately forty-one hours.

The demise of the gate is pretty simple. People who did not receive the clicker in the mail decided to run through the gate. The painted piece of PVC pipe was no match for the cars. The gate cracked off. For a few weeks the homeowners association paid a company to fix the gate. Then someone else would run through the gate. Eventually the homeowners association decided to stop paying.

So the gate/PVC pipe sat on the ground just beneath the sign that pointed people to the gated community. The gate could not stop the traffic. It could not overcome the power of cars. It was pathetic in comparison.

The gates of hell are the same way. They are powerless to contain the movement of the gospel. Jesus started the movement, and hell cannot contain it.

There is another thing about gates. They are always defensive. They protect. They guard. But they never attack. The gate lying next to the sign in my neighborhood never attacked me despite all that I said about it. The gate is inept.

Gates are never on offense. Only defense. Hell is always on defense. However, the movement of the church is never on defense. Only offense. The church always has the ball. There are no defenders on the squad.

This is good news. Victory is guaranteed.

The question is not whether we are going to win or not. Our victory celebration has already been determined. Christ has promised it. We win in the end. In fact, the enemy never gets the ball. The kingdom of darkness is stuck on defense. And we are on perpetual offense.

Even the more inept team could win if the other team never played offense. It may take some time, but they would win. Eventually.

The question is, how much will we win by? How big of a dent in the gates of hell will we make? Will we run up the score? Will we push the movement of the gospel forcefully through the gates of hell?